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The United States recently confiscated a cargo of Iranian crude oil from a tanker at sea, according to a maritime security company, indicating that the seizure pre-dated Iran's move to seize Chevron's cargo of crude oil on Thursday off the coast of Oman.
On Thursday, a Marshall Islands-flagged tanker carrying crude oil destined for Chevron was seized by the Iranian Navy, according to the U.S. Navy. According to Tehran, the tanker had been involved in a collision with an Iranian vessel in the Gulf of Oman, resulting in Iranian crewmember injuries, with several missing. Iran also said that the tanker ignored eight hours' worth of radio calls following the collision.
Iran said it was taking the Suezmax tanker back to Iran for investigation. The U.S. Navy, however, accused Iran of interfering with navigational rights in international waters, referring to the incident as a "threat to maritime security and the global economy."
On Friday, new information surfaced from maritime security company Ambrey, which alleged that Iran's motive for seizing Chevron's load of crude oil was in retaliation for the U.S. seizure that took place not even five days prior.
"Both tankers were Suezmax-sized. Iran has previously responded tit-for-tat following seizures of Iranian oil cargo," Ambrey said in a note to clients, according to the Jerusalem Post.
Sources familiar with the matter said that the United States seized a Marshall Islands tanker Suez Rajan after obtaining a court order to do so. The tanker's last known position was near southern Africa.
This isn't the first time the global energy markets have seen a spat between the United States and Iran over seized oil tankers. In 2019, the Iranian National Guard Corps seized a British oil tanker, the Stena Impera, for allegedly violating maritime law. In 2020, Iran seized a Liberian-flagged oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz, although it let it go.
The United States has also participated in the oil seizure squabble, seizing an Iranian oil cargo last May near Greece.
By Julianne Geiger for Oilprice.com
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Julianne Geiger is a veteran editor, writer and researcher for Oilprice.com, and a member of the Creative Professionals Networking Group.